The Practical Guide To Being Independent and Prepared

The Practical Guide To Being Independent and Prepared

Throughout the history of man, there have been changes and upheaval that have broken down societal structures. During these times some died, some survived, and yet others were able to rebuild and prosper. By taking a closer look at history, it can be observed that those who prospered in dark times were the ones who had the least dependence upon social services or constraints. Their ability to function independently secured their survival, their ability to teach others and lead made them prosperous.

Early on, man discovered that there is security in numbers and began to form groups with structure and responsibilities. Each within the group had daily tasks to perform if the group was to survive. They taught these tasks and the skills to their young ensuring the knowledge was passed from generation to generation. This small and isolated social structure allowed man to proliferate and spread across the globe. As populations increased, man began to build cities, and with the cities came problems. For so many, to exist in a confined area there needed to be rules and laws created to maintain order and civility. The daily activities of so many people in a small area taxed natural resources heavily. Necessities like food and water had to come from outside sources controlled by other people. With the inability to grow enough food for the masses, came bustling markets where the city dwellers had to barter for food and other items needed for daily subsistence. So many people in one area created large amounts of waste on a daily basis, which needed to be removed to prevent odors and disease. Dealing with all the problems associated with large populations crates a social dependency on the infrastructure and laws for daily survival.

Webster's Dictionary defines Independence as "freedom from outside control or support: the state of being independent: the time when a country or region gains political freedom from outside control." (www.merriam-webster.com) The daily life activities of those living in modernized civilization are heavily dependent upon technology, with modern cities being models of dependency and vulnerability. The availability of stores at nearly every corner has replaced the practice of storing quantities of food items in the home, and as a result, most people have less than three days worth of food items in their homes. Even the largest stores are heavily dependent upon the infrastructure and logistics of transportation to maintain necessary inventories for operation, maintaining roughly three days or less of produce in their shelves. Electricity has become the primary means for food preservation, lighting, and conditioning the inside environments of businesses and dwellings. The daily-industrialized removal of waste material of all types is the thin barrier between the masses and mass disease.

It is possible to be an independent person living in a dependent environment, but independence requires knowledge and practice. These facts are important because in-spite of our technological evolution, man is still slave to the same dependencies that plagued older civilizations. The higher the population density in any given area, the greater the dependency on infrastructure and utilities; and with this a proportionally greater vulnerability to risk and danger. Modern engineering has brought about many marvels; humans and everything that clings to them are stacked ever higher into the sky as populations increase. Electric lights fend off the dark of night, pumps move water as high as the clouds, and waste treatment plants remove all the waste in a whirl of water. These marvels are creating the most dependent generation of man in history. It is up to each of us to recognize and manage our dependency on social services, and be able and ready to walk away from them.

Every crisis shares certain common threads, whether they are natural or manmade; when they occur people will be affected, and how they are affected will depend on their location, degree of shelter, and needs at the time of the crisis. The moment a crisis occurs, you may find yourself away from home, and needing to get there as quickly as possible. Depending on the type and severity of the crisis, you may find yourself battling power outages, transportation failures, injured people, rioting people, bad weather, and blockaded routes. Being ready requires people to develop habits that include carrying certain items on you everywhere you go, every day. The daily twenty or thirty minute commute could easily turn into one or more days of foot travel if road ways become damaged or blocked, you may find yourself needing to evade bands of thugs or even the military to get home, and that will require a few tools and skills.

Once the initial crisis has abated, it will be some time before relief efforts are established and available. In the United States, the average time for relief efforts to be up and running on any scale is seventy-two hours, but could be different depending on the amount of damage to roads and infrastructure. If you were fortunate enough to evacuate ahead of the crisis, you will most likely find yourself one of a multitude who evacuated and are now competing for the local resources. In this situation many will not be as well prepared as you are, making it imperative that your seventy-two hour kit is well guarded at all times. This is the point where a predetermined plan is useful, if you had made previous arrangements for some members of your family to stay with relatives this would be the springboard moment. Those who will be returning to the home should do so as early as possible in the first seventy-two hours and be prepared for a multitude of circumstances. Depending on the crisis, you could be facing risks resulting from damaged homes, looters, sick and injured people, and even martial law. The seventy-two hour bag will be crucial to your being able to reestablish a firm foothold on your property. Should you by choice or circumstance dig in through the crisis, you may be faced with the same risks listed earlier, as well as criminals looking for quick looting opportunities, or dazed and confused victims wandering in the aftermath. In either scenario, you should expect to experience power outages, loss of public services such as power, water and sewer, and impassible roadways. Being able to stay close to home in the first seventy-two hours greatly increases the probability of a successful recovery from the crisis.

The next major milestone usually occurs within two weeks, this is when logistics and infrastructure have been restored enough to get steady supplies to the stricken areas. Relief agencies, medical services, food, and water provisions will be established and functioning at specific locations. At this stage, the primary goal is to get what is needed from the distribution sites, and return home quickly and safely. There may be gangs who would attempt to rob you of your much-needed supplies waiting for potential victims to come from other areas, so you must remain alert as you travel to and from distribution sites. Long term interruption in sanitation services and general hygiene practices combined with stress are fertile breeding ground for disease and the easy transmission of disease. The longer services and power are down, the greater the strain on most people's immune systems and temperament will become. After two weeks it is prudent to limit contact with other people and wash your hands frequently, especially when out gathering supplies or moving about communal areas. It is also recommended that a bandana or facemask be worn when in large populations of people. The potential for violence and hostility will be higher at or near these distribution sites, so being prepared and having a plan to get in, get what is needed, and get out quickly is paramount to reducing the risk being

affected by violent actions or disease. The potential for looting or robbery of your home any time it is unprotected during this period will be very high, planning for the protection of your property at all times will be crucial to your survivability.

The ninety day rule of epidemiology; it does not matter whether the source of the disease was some major pandemic, or there was an endemic or pandemic infection after some other crisis. There is a cycle to infection, incubation, transmission, and death associated with all bacterial and viral infections. Diseases have an incubation period during which the host may not have any symptoms, but can be contagious. Then the host will show symptoms of the infection and can become overwhelmed and immobilized. Any new disease will have no cures in the beginning, and hospitals and treatment centers will be overwhelmed with the sick and dying. Plan well for minor injuries and sniffles, the worst place for a healthy person during any outbreak, is the medical treatment facility or hospital. Many methods will be employed by officials to contain outbreaks, as the number of infected climbs, many of these measures will affect your ability to secure provisions. The final stage of the disease is death, and in a significant outbreak, there will be a lot of death. This cycle typically takes ninety days to run the primary course. Typically, the measures enforced by officials combined with the mortality of the disease will have brought its spread under control. Solid planning and storage of supplies will get you through the worst part, but there is much more to come. As you might be thinking if it reached the ninety-day rule, this is serious SHTF (Stuff Hits The Fan) time and you would be correct. Disposing of potentially millions of diseased bodies, contamination control and cleanup, and restoring the infrastructure and services could take decades.

Throughout history; natural disaster, war, and disease have rapidly taken entire populations. Cities were the hardest hit, and why wouldn't they be; dependency is risk, and during any crisis a city is the easiest prey for malady and mayhem. The high population density ensures the rapid accumulation of wastes and vermin, facilitates the spread of disease, and guarantees greater death and injury rates for any attacking armies. All of these stresses are compounded by the loss of the rules and laws that had previously maintained order and civility among the masses, and the loss of the infrastructure that kept the city utilities and systems functioning normally. It may sound like the solution is to leave the city; and under some circumstances you would be correct. Living inside the cities has advantages and will always be part of man's culture, but living in the city does not mean everyone should submit blindly to the risks of being dependent on the infrastructure and laws of the city.

By learning how to be independent, people will be capable of getting through rough times and emerge from a crisis relatively unscathed.

Homesteading and pioneering after a major crisis. Sounds like doomsday speak, but in reality, there have been many crises throughout history. Local, national, or global, crisis come in many forms and can have a lasting impact on those affected. During the Great Depression, people in the cities suffered more than people in rural areas. Why is that? If it was the great depression, shouldn't everyone have suffered the same? The answer comes back to population density and dependency. During this period of history, most people in rural areas grew their own food; they also did not rely on the store for many of their daily needs such as soap, butter, milk, eggs, and other staples. They preserved vegetables from their gardens and meats to be eaten during the winter months and beyond. What they did not grow themselves, they acquired by

trading with others, or the outright sale of grown goods for cash to purchase other needs. In areas of the world today where war and hostilities are a daily threat, many grow their own gardens or have communal rooftop gardens. Waiting for a crisis to learn these skills is too late and will not prove very successful. One of the greater benefits to practicing homesteading skills on a small scale will be the time spent doing something meaningful with family members. Family bonds are formed and strengthened by the things they do together, especially when elder family members are teaching younger family members, and from these bonds comes respect. Many of the homesteading skills can be practiced on a small scale in the back yard, on a balcony, or in a kitchen. Plants will grow anywhere there is light, new technologies can be employed to make growing them even simpler. Getting closer to the nature of things also breeds a sense of responsibility for nature and respect for the resources it provides. The many benefits for a family spending time together and learning homesteading and pioneering crafts are priceless and boundless.

This book is book is designed to provide a basic blueprint for independence and preparedness. By providing general ideas and rationale for various levels of readiness, it can be used as the foundation for building your families plan for independence and preparedness. The foundation to being prepared begins with daily items for carry and culminates in fundamental homesteading and pioneering skills. You are encouraged to seek other sources and information wherever you may find them and teach all who will listen.

Know Your Risks and Have a Plan

Large cities pose the greatest risk; the high population density ensures that resources will be consumed in a matter of days or hours. Depending on the crisis, there may be a mass exodus that would congest roadways. These mass exodus scenarios have their own risks due to the number of people traveling together and the increased stress of the archaic environment. The loss of power and services will leave cities difficult to navigate as intersections become choke points clogged with wrecked vehicles, exit routes will become blocked with stalled vehicles and foot traffic. Abandoned items along with human and animal waste will begin to build up, further complicating the task of getting from place to place. Insects and vermin will proliferate in this environment very quickly and begin the cycle of infestation and disease. Civility and law will quickly give way to mob rule and general anarchy, the longer the crisis persists the worse these problems will become.

Smaller cities and suburban communities have similar dependencies on infrastructure, but will benefit from having a lower population density. Most will have yards or some open green space, and the ability to use these areas to manage waste removal and provide a buffer between their home and threats. Civility and law will survive in these areas much longer than in the cities, and depending on the duration of the crisis, many neighborhoods may band together to form their own functioning groups much like early man did for support and mutual defense.

Rural locations and farms have the lowest dependency factors of all, most will have their own waste removal systems, wells, many who live in rural settings have agricultural skills, and may even posses one or more independent sources of power generation.

Knowing where you live and what you depend on every day will have a significant impact on your plans. Take time to assess your environment, make a plan for making the best use of resources while they are available. Have an evacuation plan, know where you will go, how you will get there, how long you will stay there, and what you will need to get you there and sustain you once you get there. Make a short-term plan and a long-term plan, and have the items you will need for the plan to be successful. During a crisis you will also need to think in terms of strategy and tactics, the strategy can be thought of as the process of putting your plan into execution, staying with the plan and being ready to adapt as things change. Tactics is how you will confront people and challenges; situational awareness is the difference between life and death. Never take your eyes and ears off the ball, assume everyone you cross paths with is willing to take everything you have, and will not hesitate to hurt you or your family in the process. This may seem uncivilized; and that is because it is. People will become uncivilized very quickly when they are hungry, thirsty, ill, or just free from the constraints of law; therefore, you must always look at people from a tactical position until they prove themselves allies. You must also be ready to be uncivilized yourself, you will not be able to care for yourself or your family if you are injured or dead, so you must be willing and able to quickly injure or kill any who attack you or your family, the choices you will make during a crisis must be focused on survivability, and many will be unpleasant. Exercise good judgment and compassion but never hesitate, hesitation may not end well for you or your family.

Items to carry every day

Planning ahead can be challenging, and is unique to each person and his or her needs, but there is a good common core to build upon.

Fire Starting Tools

The ability to make and control fire, is the difference between life and death, every year people die of exposure to the elements because didn't have the means or knowledge to make fire. It is a good idea to have at least two means of starting fire on you very day, some common fire starting items are:

Disposable or non-disposable lighters can be found in any store and carried in a pocket or purse. They are reliable and easy to use, but may not work well when wet.

Fire pistons are one of the oldest fire starting methods, but require a bit of practice and tinder. They work by compressing air inside the tube, which increases the temperature very quickly. Fire pistons work very well with char cloth as a tinder source, and can be used when wet. Most have a chamber for keeping some tinder with them. These come in many sizes and shapes, most will fit in a pocket or purse.

Fire steel and scraper is a tube shaped piece of metal that creates sparks when you run the metal scraper or the back of a knife blade down the tube. They come in many sizes and can be attached to a key ring. Fire steels are the most versatile and work in any condition, even when wet.

Matches, preferably water and wind proof, are reliable and certainly better than nothing, but are better suited for a purse or pouch because the containers used to hold them may be bulky, most are useless without the strike strip on the container, and are also a onetime use item.

Fresnel lenses and magnifying glasses are reliable and easy to use; the credit card size Fresnel lens fits in the wallet and is easy to use, smaller magnifying glasses can be attached to key chains. They work best on dark colored tinder, which will absorb the heat from the focused sunlight better, and they will work in any weather as long as there is sunlight available.

Flint and strikers are among the oldest and most reliable fire starting tools, and work by striking flint with steel which produces sparks. These can be used in any conditions and come in many sizes.

Magnesium fire Starters work by scraping the magnesium block with a knife or scraper that produces shavings, these shavings are then ignited with sparks form the fire steel and burn at a very high temperature which is useful in wet and cold conditions. They come in many sizes and shapes making them easy to carry on a key ring or in a pocket.

Solar Spark Lighters are convex mirrors that reflect and focus light to a specific point, and are somewhat bulky. They would be good for a purse or a pouch, and would work in any condition when there is ample sunlight.

Knifes and Edged Tools

Knives and edged tools serve a multitude of purposes and are arguably the most valuable item in both common and crisis situations. They can be used to do everything from opening mail to stripping and splicing electrical wires. Selection of the right type is again a highly personal choice there are several factors to consider. It is recommended to have at least one edged tool or knife for daily carry, but two are preferred.

It is a common thought that if you carry a knife you must be looking for trouble, nothing could be farther from the facts. While modern conveniences have made everything easy open and easy access, they are not fool proof and it is always nice to have a good sharp blade to cut the wrappers open when they fail. You can use knives to scrape surfaces clean, and even to cut that annoying loose thread from your jeans. The benign daily uses are endless, but there other needs that may arise and a knife is just the right tool. A knife can be used to free yourself or someone else from a locked space by using it to remove the hinge pins on the door. Open the latch on a window, or break the window. It can also be used as a means of defense against an attacker.

Not all knives and edged tools are created equal, because of the different types of steel used in their construction. High carbon steel is the high end of edged tool materials, it is nearly indestructible and has superior edge holding characteristics, but requires more maintenance. High carbon steel is susceptible to corrosion and rust if not properly cleaned and preserved, and might not be the ideal blade for someone who spends a lot of time near salt water. Stainless steel is the workhorse of cutting tools and comes in many grades; many find stainless steel preferable because it is durable and low maintenance. The stainless will take and edge well but will dull sooner than the high carbon steel blade. Stainless steel is also more affordable than high carbon steel. There are many blade designs stiletto blades, serrated and partially serrated blades, hooked blades and disposable blades. When considering fixed blade knives it is important to select a full tang design. A full tang design is a blade that continues full size into the handle. This is makes for a solid knife that will not break at the handle. In general terms, any daily carry blade should be practical for your environment, the thicker the blade back the more abuse it will be able to withstand and it should be easy to carry in a pocket or hooked to the belt. Fixed blades will be stronger than folding blades, and most disposable blades will have a shorter cutting surface.

The folding knife comes in all shapes, sizes and blade types and range from the very impractical to the soldier's best friend. A good blade length is from three to 4 inches, a good general gage is if the blade is as long as a man's palm is wide.

The disposable blade design is a relatively new and may be preferable in areas where there are strict laws governing knives, while it would not be the first choice, it is better than nothing.

The multi function knife is good choice and offers a variety of blades and useful attachments; it also lacks the stigma attached with other folding knives.

The multi-tool has become the second edged tool of choice for many, and should be a serious consideration for the second edged tool in your daily carry lineup. The offer not only an extra blade, but tools for gripping, sawing, prying, turning screws, and unlike the multi function knives have the strength to take some elbow grease.

Fixed blade knife three to four in length is going to be the strongest of all small service blades; it should be a full tang design. This type of knife will not generally fit in the pocket but would carry well in a purse or a pouch.

Fire Arms

If you are fortunate enough to have a concealed carry permit, exercise your second amendment right, stealth is the key with this type of weapon. It has one purpose only and that is to drive of or dispatch an attacker. There are many types of compact firearms and even more holsters to hold them. Carrying loose in a pocket or purse is folly. Keep it in a holster for your safety and those around you. Go to the range and practice your draw and fire at least once monthly. Depending on where you carry your weapon it could be exposed to moisture, dust and other contaminants that could cause a malfunction just when you need it most. Take the weapon out of the holster, empty it completely and clean it at least once every three months.

Money and Comfort Items

The most overlooked aspect of planning is the things we stuff in our pockets or carry in purses daily, what are these things and why do need them.

Money, we get it from the ATM; spend it, repeat until broke. What will you do if you are stranded and need food or shelter? How much money is enough to carry daily and how much is too much. That depends on you and where you live. However, there is a good rule of ready for this one; get a business card holder, just a small one, have one credit card that you never use; two thousand dollars is a good limit. Wrap that credit card with twenty, fifty or hundred dollar bills, one or two bills is enough, you do not want a thick wad. Then wrap the credit card and bills in aluminum foil, one or two wraps is enough. Then put it in your business card holder and always carry it in a different pocket than your wallet. Should you lose or be liberated of your wallet, you will still have the means to get where you need to go. The foil is a faraday cage to prevent electromagnetic energy from wiping your credit card.

Comfort items come in many shapes and sizes the cell phone, keys to our properties, maybe some mints or gum. A pen is necessary; a tactical pen would be perfect. Should you need to write down a plate number or a description of an attacker you do not need paper as long as you have an arm to write on. A good sturdy pen can also be the first weapon you reach in a bad situation. Lip balm, preferably in a small squeeze tube with a cap. It will be invaluable should you find yourself walking a long distance in any kind of weather. It can also be used to lubricate a sticky lock, squeeze some out on the key and problem solved. It can also turn any fabric into long burning tinder for starting a rescue fire for signaling or warmth.

Daily carry items can be anything the imagination comes up with, what is practical to one person will not be for another. Daily carry items also change if there are health conditions that require medication, young children to care for, and any handicap that may require items to be at the ready.

Items to keep in your vehicle at all times

This age of instant communications from almost anywhere on the planet has lulled people into a sense of security, when in reality it is just another dependency. In a bad weather scenario and other situations the cell phone may not be much help. Whether you keep a vehicle kit in a box or bag, there should be a few items that are always present in your vehicle; these become the core components of the vehicle kit. Vehicle kits will differ based upon space available, daily commute distance, weather, and road hazard conditions faced on a regular basis, and the vehicle kit can be modified for longer trips.

The first item is a waterproof bag large enough to hold a change of clothes; the second will be the change of clothes. The easiest attire to keep in a car kit is sweats; they do not take up much space and are very good at insulating. Adult female sweats in small can be used for children and take away the need for constant updating of sizes. Bad weather accounts for most of the roadway mishaps that leave people stranded for extended periods of time. Having extra dry clothes is can prevent hypothermia. The waterproof bag has several uses; it can be used as a pillow, a floatation device, and water carrier, to name a few.

Emergency blankets are the third item that should be in your kit. There should be at least one for each person who might be expected to travel in the vehicle. The cheapest and smallest are the aluminized poly blankets, they also do not take up much space. These should provide adequate warmth in most situations. For very cold environments they can be used to line an outer coat to prevent the loss of body heat. I very cold environments it will be advantageous to keep wool blankets, or sleeping bags in the vehicle, vacuum bags can be used to reduce their bulk and make them easier to store and carry.

Emergency water rations approved by the Coast Guard are number four on the list. Bottled water may not endure the temperature changes inside a vehicle very well, so it is strongly recommended that approved and dated water rations be kept in the vehicle.

Freeze-dried food, there are many to choose from and have become widely available in big box stores. They can be consumed dry, or rehydrated with the water rations. To conserve water rations the trail mix and granola mixes would be the best choices for a vehicle kit. They require no preparation and can be snacked on, which will reduce hunger and act a comfort item, especially for children.

Water bottle(s) stainless steel one-liter bottles are the preferred type for use, but aluminum is just as functional. There should be at least one, a minimum of two if there are smaller children. These water bottles can be used for drinking water, pasteurizing water, melting snow, filtering water, and dissolving granola to make baby food.

Stored inside each of the bottles should be a water purification tablets and a bandana. The bandana can be used over the mouth of the bottle as a solids filter when collecting water and the tablets can then be used to make the water drinkable.

Inexpensive poncho type rain jackets rounds up number nine in the kit. There should be a minimum of two, but that is a subjective requirement. The rule here is to ask the question; "how many people will need to leave the vehicle and travel on foot in bad weather.

Number ten is a crank powered radio flashlight combo, we will call a second LED type flash light number ten and a half should redundancy demand one. Car batteries are often damaged in collisions, will run down over a period of time, and should be saved in cold weather to start the engine to provide heat. Being able to hear news and weather will be critical to knowing if and when help will be traveling your way. Several can be used to charge cell phones.

Borrowing from watercraft requirements leaves us item number eleven, the loudest whistle you can find. Whistles can be heard long distances and above many other noises and sounds.

Roadside flares come in at number twelve, they can be used to signal your location and start a fire in even the wettest conditions.

Thirteen is a first aid kit with bandages, gauze, stretch gauze or tape, antibiotic ointment, iodine, some individually packaged pain reliever, antihistamine, and decongestant pills as a minimum.

Paper towels in a waterproof bag are the fourteenth item in the round up, you may not normally by the top of the line super tough paper towels for home, but this should be your choice for the vehicle kit. They will have many use from toilet paper to feminine pads, so they need to be absorbent and durable.

Number fifteen is a durable pair of shoes for the person who is most likely to need to leave the vehicle for help.

Number sixteen a survival knife, machete, or hatchet. This blade needs to be a solid workhorse, which can be used for felling saplings, splitting firewood, making a splint, and even digging. Different people will have their own preferences, and should choose the one they are most familiar with. It would not do to compound the problem with an injury.

A compass is an inexpensive, but invaluable addition to the vehicle kit, making it number seventeen on the list. A compass is great, but it is even better with a map. As a minimum the kit should contain a map of the state in which you reside; making map(s) eighteen on the list.

Considering the many uses for mobile devices, especially the cell phone, number nineteen is a bit costly, but could be a lifesaver. A five-volt DC solar charger with common plug adapters. You will be able to keep your cell phone charged even while traveling on foot to find help. Since most cell phones have GPS capabilities you will be able to record your coordinates, and plot your path to rescue.

Number twenty on the list will have many uses from trail flagging to writing coordinates; a waterproof spiral notepad, and a pressurized pen (space pens).

Fifty to one hundred feet of 550 Para cord is a must for any vehicle kit, and coming in at number twenty one on this item truly has a million and one uses.

Anytime there is a discussion of a must have item with a million uses, duct tape is the first item most people think of, and is a staple in almost every home, and that earns it lucky number twenty two on the list.

The Seventy-Two Hour Bag

The seventy two hour bag is an inventory of items necessary to get through the first seventy two hours of a crisis, after the first seventy two hours relief efforts and services should be setting up distribution and medical centers. The seventy two hour bag will be your primary source of supplies whether you are evacuating or digging in. Each member of the family should have their own bag, these individual bags should be tailored for the individual. A child's bag should have clothes, water, food, personal hygiene items, comfort items such as toys, blankets and any special needs. Adult bags should contain clean clothes, work gloves, food, water, special medications, blankets, flashlights, personal hygiene items, and special needs items. Additional items for other adult bags are a matter of choice and preference, but they should also contain basic survival kits and weapons.

Bug In or Bug Out the first seventy two hours are critical for securing the wellbeing of yourself and your family, and since different scenarios will require different action plans the seventy two hour kit should be portable. Having these items bagged and ready to go ensures a solid inventory of needed items, which is separate from the daily consumption of goods. The seventy two hour bag is a more complete system of survival goods built on the assumption that these items will be the only resources available until rescue services arrive. Some items of the seventy two hour inventory may be in your vehicle kit, and it is assumed that you would have the vehicle kit with you. All items recommended for a seventy two hour bag will be listed here in this section, to ensure continuity of the inventory. If your commute time and distance are minimal, it may be reasonable to forgo the vehicle kit and only focus on the seventy two hour bag.

The bag

Each member of the family should have their own bag, and it is recommended that each bag be self contained, but as always personal preferences will guide what is ultimately packed for each individual. A good quality canvas bag or a back pack made of durable material is a must, it will also need to be large enough to carry the recommended items. Packs or bags with multiple zippered sections are best for dividing the materials up by need and accessibility. Mil-spec and molle bags are best suited for the seventy-two hour bag, and are rugged enough to take being over stuffed and abused.

Even with the durability and multiple compartments of these bags, water proof bags and containers will be needed to keep everything safe from damaged due to weather, rough handling or any of the liquid items in the kit leaking.

Water 6 to 12 pouches, cans would NOT be the preferred container

Emergency water rations approved by the Coast Guard are number four on the list. Bottled water may not endure the temperature changes inside a vehicle very well, so it is strongly recommended that approved and dated water rations be kept in the bag.

Food 3 to 6 pouches, and seasonings such as salt and pepper should part of the food list.

Freeze dried food, there are many to choose from and have become widely available in big box stores. They can be consumed dry, or rehydrated with the water rations. To conserve water rations the trail mix and granola mixes would be the best choices for the bag. They require no preparation and can be snacked on, which will reduce hunger and act a comfort item, especially for children.

Water Bottle or Canteen Stainless steel or aluminum

Water bottle(s) stainless steel one liter bottles are the preferred type for use, but aluminum is just as functional. These water bottles can be used for drinking water, pasteurizing water, melting snow, filtering water, and cooking soups.

Stored inside each of the bottles should be a water purification tablets and a bandana. The bandana can be used over the mouth of the bottle as a solids filter when collecting water, and the tablets can then be used to make the water drinkable.

Multiple usage water filters will be invaluable since water in pipes and water heaters may have been standing some time and you may need to pull water from ponds or streams, there are several types, the hand pump type being more expensive, but is preferred over the straw type. Using the hand pump type water filter can be pumped from a source into a water bottle, water jug, or any waterproof bag or plastic bag. A hand pump filter will allow for creating and carrying filtered water for cooking or other needs. The straw type is only for drinking directly from a water source.

A small cleaning kit should come with the hand pump type water filter, and should be kept with the filter device.

Fire Starting Materials

Disposable or non-disposable lighters can be found in any store and carried in a pocket or purse. They are reliable and easy to use, but may not work well when wet.

Fire pistons are one of the oldest fire starting methods, but require a bit of practice and tinder. They work by compressing air inside the tube that increases the temperature very quickly. Fire pistons work very well with char cloth as a tinder source, and can be used when wet. Most have a chamber for keeping some tinder with them. These come in many sizes and shapes, most will fit in a pocket or purse.

Fire steel and scraper is a tube shaped piece of metal, which creates sparks when you run the metal scraper or the back of a knife blade down the tube. They come in many sizes and can be attached to a key ring. Fire steels are the most versatile and work in any condition, even when wet.

Matches, preferably water and wind proof, are reliable and certainly better than nothing, but are better suited for a purse or pouch because the containers used to hold them may be bulky, most are useless without the strike strip on the container, and are also on onetime use item.

Fresnel lenses and magnifying glasses are reliable and easy to use, the credit card size Fresnel lens fits in the wallet and is easy to use, smaller magnifying glasses can be attached to key chains. They work best on dark objects that absorb the heat from the focused sunlight better, and they will work in any condition as long as there is sunlight available.

Flint and strikers are among the oldest and most reliable fire starting tools, and work by striking flint with steel which produces sparks. These can be used in any conditions and come in many sizes.

Magnesium fire Starters work by scraping the magnesium block with a knife or scraper that produces shavings, these shavings are then ignited with sparks form the fire steel and burn at a very high temperature which is useful in wet and cold conditions. They come in many sizes and shapes making them easy to carry on a key ring or in a pocket.

Solar Spark Lighters are convex mirrors that reflect and focus light to a specific point, and are somewhat bulky. They would be good for a purse or a pouch, and would work in any condition when there is ample sunlight.

Cotton balls are an excellent tinder and can be compressed onto a tiny space, they become super tinder when soaked with petroleum jelly, alcohol, or alcohol based hand sanitizer.

Personal First Aid Kit

A good first aid kit should contain emergency blankets, insect repellant, pain relievers, antihistamines, anti inflammatory, cold pack, tweezers, PVP iodine, iodine tablets, antibiotic cream, antibiotic medicine, anti diarrhea pills, antacid, gauze pads, gauze rolls, stretch gauze, tape, superglue, band aids, scissors, curved and straight needles, burn cream, snake bite kit, hydrocortisone cream, breathing masks, surgical gloves, lip balm, and a tourniquet.

Shelter

Tarps can be used for emergency shelters and protection from the elements and are available in many sizes and types. Higher quality tarps will have multiple re-enforced eyelets for securing them and be double or triple stitched. It is advisable that each individual bag contain a tarp of some type, even if they are smaller. Foil emergency blankets can be used to make a shelter in a pinch, or line the floor of your shelter to protect against moisture wicking into your clothes or sleeping bag while you rest. They also make a good heat reflective interior for your shelter that will help keep body heat in or reflect heat from a small survival fire.

Small tents and hanging shelters may be substituted but will be les versatile than a tarp. These tents are generally only large enough for one person.

Light

A bright LED flashlight is another essential item for each bag, newer LED flashlights will run tens of thousands of hours before needing to be replaced, and battery life is very good on them. There are some that have a hand crank available to charge the batteries and others still that can be recharged by the sun. Many can be strapped to a hat or body part for ands free use, and will be vital tools.

Glow sticks are perfect for keeping sight of people or objects in the dark because they radiate light in 360 making them visible from any angle, they can also be used as silent perimeter alarms, signaling, and determining the depth of standing water or holes.

Hygiene

Staying clean is necessary to help guard against infection and illness, as well as a personal sense of well being, but there are some things to remember. There may not be a lot of water available, let alone hot water for washing and bathing in the first seventy two hours. It would not be to your advantage to have soaps which are heavily perfumed either, since the idea is to be prepared and posses certain necessities without advertising it those who might try to take them from you. Waterless soap and shampoo are readily available in big box stores and camping sites. A tooth brush with tooth paste and floss round up the basics, but with the availability of wet wipes and other convenient hygiene items there is room for creativity. Each individual would have their own hygiene needs packed in their own seventy two hour bag, children and infants might have items like diapers and wipes, and because these may be outgrown it is recommended that a stock rotation system be used to ensure there is always at least one full bag of diapers in the home. Women will have their own specific needs and preferences, and men may have shaving needs. Condoms are one of those items with many unintended uses, and should be in all adult bags.

Clothing

Clothes are a necessary item, hypothermia can happen even when the weather is warm, the right combination of wet and wind can sap body very quickly. The preferred items would be work gloves, wool socks, durable cargo pants made with rip stop material are preferable to other types of pants, a long sleeve shirt, and a change of underwear. Being able to change into dry clothes could be the difference between life and death. To keep these clothes dry, they should be inside a water proof bag that is sealed tight.

550 Para-cord 50 to 100 feet.

Para-cord is a source of multiple sizes of cordage and can be used for fishing line or sewing thread. With over a million uses, paracord is a must for very bag, the more you can carry the better.

Head Gear

Hats an bandanas will be much needed items, protecting your head from both heat and cold is crucial to staying healthy and alert. The preferred hat will have a full prim to protect all sides of the head and neck, but a ball cap is better than none. Bandanas have multiple uses and you should have two or more in your bag. They can be used with the hat to protect the neck, insulate the head, or hold water to help cool the head. Inside the hat is a great place to store a bandana as well.

Sewing Kit

A small sewing kit will be needed to patch torn clothing or tarps. It should contain sewing needles, threat, scissors, buttons, and a thread starter as a minimum.

Knots

A good knot reference sheet will be invaluable and should be accessible.

Signaling

A signal whistle and signal mirror will help with communicating over long distances and knowing how to send a coherent message can mean the difference between life and death. Morse code is an international standard and can be transmitted using sound or light, and a good reference card will be very helpful when you have an important message to send.

Writing

A waterproof notepad and pressurized pen are essential items in the pack, they can be used to convert Morse code to letters, keep notes, write directions, and even flag a trail.

Food Trapping and Fishing

Paracord combined with the right knowledge and equipment can mean the difference between eating or not, and while there is seventy two hours worth of food stores in the bag, it is always good to be able capture or collect food as a contingency. Snares and traps can be low energy ways to catch food.

As above paracord and some fishing tackle can mean the difference between eating or not.

Phones and Radios

Chances are you will have a cell phone or walkie talkie type of radio, these are great so long as you are within range, and the battery is charged. A hand crank or solar charger for your communication device should be in your bag. The proliferation of the USB technology has made the five volt platform almost universal, and that means lots of choices for a charger exist.

Survival Knife

The survival knife will become the workhorse of this kit, it will be used for chopping, hacking, splitting fire wood, shaving wood and wood bark, digging, and just about anything else that requires either leverage or cutting. Because it will be used a lot and with force, it is crucial that you are familiar with it and practiced with it. For that reason some suggestions will be made to keep on track with needs, but the choice must be made by the user. Each user may choose a different tool. The blade on a survival knife will be from six inches to twenty inches in length, some have serrated sections other do not. Many have a saw tooth back. It is important to look at the blade design when choosing, the simpler the blade design the easier it will be to keep sharp.

A full tang design will be stronger and last longer than those without a full tang, and others will have the blade welded to a hollow handle for storage. Included in the Survival knife group is the hatchet; hatchets come in two basic types the wood hatchet or the survival hatchet. The survival hatchet has a thinner blade and the back is often pointed for penetrating objects.

Multi tools

Having a toolbox is always convenient, but not very practical for a seventy two hour bag, the multi tool takes center stage as the versatile alternative.

Sharpening Stone

All of these edges will dull with use, and restoring the edge will require a good sharpening stone or system.

Firearms and ammo

There is much debate on the perfect weapon for the seventy two hour bag, basically it comes down to personal preference, and the focus here will be on practical use of space, weight and transportation. The humble .22 LR is the most versatile round for hunting and protection, because it is low recoil and can be muffled in many ways it is easy to use. The shotgun, an any gage is a forgiving and devastating weapon in any hands. The .223 or 5.56 is another staple round that is excellent for hunting and defense. These would provide compact an manageable solutions for a long gun. Being very common rounds, this ammunition will be available almost anywhere. 9mm, .45 ACP, .22 LR and .40 are among the most common handgun calibers, and there are conversion kits to fire each of these rounds through single shot shotguns, as well as carbine rifle models for each caliber. The .22 LR has a multitude of rifle models and handgun models available, and large amounts of ammunition can be carried for them. While larger rounds possess knockdown power, a well placed shot from the .22LR can drop most animals. Even the highest quality firearms require regular cleaning and maintenance to function properly, so you should know your firearms well and have a cleaning kit with them. It is also recommended that you purchase reliable brands with a solid reputation for reliability and durability.

Sleeping Bags and Blankets

A seventy two hour bag is just that, enough to keep you through seventy two hours and beyond. In this time you will certainly need to rest, and do so comfortably. A good sleeping bag, or heavy wool blanket is just the ticket. The small foil covered emergency blankets are excellent for putting on the ground under your sleeping bag, and will keep damp from wicking up from the ground. Both sleeping bags and heavy wool blankets will keep you warm in very cold conditions. Camp pillows can be packed as well, or the waterproof bag with your extra clothes can be inflated to the desired size and used for a pillow; to make it more comfortable wrap the extra shirt around it like a pillowcase. The rectangular sleeping bag is the recommended type, since it can be zipped with another similar sleeping bag to facilitate more than one person.

Mess Kits and Utensils

While many item in this bag can and should be multiple use, making sure all needs are being met is important. A mess kit and can opener will be necessary for food preparation and consumption, and may be needed for water pasteurization among other uses. These should be compact, light weight, preferably made of stainless steel or aluminum, easy to clean. Aluminum foil is an excellent addition to the mess kit, and can be used to hold heat in the container while cooking.

Plastic Bags

A variety of heavy duty plastic bags should be in the seventy two hour bag. Good quality zip lock bags can be used for storing uneaten food, water, and for keeping important items dry. Large heavy gage trash bags can be used for trash, warmth, rain gear, and keeping valuables dry in bad weather. Heavy gage plastic sheeting can be used to weather proof a survival shelter, and block moisture from wicking up from the ground into sleeping bags.

Paper Towels

Paper towels in a waterproof bag are a must have, they can be used for hygiene and cleaning the mess kit, so they need to be highly absorbent and durable.

Tape

Duct tape is a staple in almost every home, and it should be a staple in the seventy two hour bag. It's uses are limitless.

Navigation

USB has made a hand GPS the navigation aid of choice, it can be charged with the charger called out earlier in this list. Even with a GPS the reliable compass is a must keep item for the seventy two hour bag. As a minimum the seventy two hour bag should contain a map of the state in which you reside and a compass.

Books

Survival handbooks from military or other sources will be very beneficial, it would also be very advantageous to have books that reference local edible and toxic plants. The more color pictures the better the book.

Rain Gear

Even in warm weather wind and rain can cause hypothermia, every bag must contain some rain gear. There are many types available but the recommended type would be the utility poncho. Unlike fitted rain gear the poncho can be used to make a shelter for waiting the rain out, and will fit anyone.

Special Considerations

Everyone needs their own bag, and should have special needs in them at all times, or have a designated pouch that home stores will be placed in. Among these items would be medications, formula or powdered milk for infants and younger children, bottles and nipples, contact lenses and supplies, extra eyeglasses, sunglasses, extra petroleum jelly or lip balm, money or precious metals for barter, credit cards or ATM cards, a book with the names and numbers of contacts, and any other special needs. Care to collect any critical documents will need to be part of your evacuation plan, and one or more bags should be designated for these items.

Stoves for cooking

There are many camping stoves to choose from and most require some type of bottled or pressurized fuel. While these are reliable and convenient, it is recommended that you go low tech. Collapsible stoves that can be used to burn almost anything, are best choice of stove for use in uncertain circumstances, and do not require keeping a fuel source in your bag.

Pets

Pets should have their own bag, which would have medicines, food, water, bowls, and toys. It is a good idea to have a blanket and at least one towel for keeping your pet dry and comfortable. It is just good practice to keep an extras bag of dry pet food on hand at all times; this extra bag can be packed quickly.

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Comment by Less Prone on January 30, 2017 at 3:55pm

I find this article very well done and thorough.

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